The notable exception to this layout of the various departments of the casino at The Venetian is again its Sports-Book, which is entirely rounded into a half-circle and therefore gives an air of having consumed far more resources than a rectangular shaped Sports-Book would. It is easy to craft a desk that is straight, to cut the wood in a way that makes it have strong borders and edges; for that reason most desks that you see are straight. To cut the wood so as to make it rounded is far more difficult, and someone looking at such a curved piece of wood would have to assume high expense involved in procuring and designing wood in such a fashion.
In the center of the floor of the Venetian (and not all casinos are like this) are the slot machines, conspicuous examples of mass expenditure, ringing and glittering and flashing lights. To say that luxury is made overt through the use of machinery -- and this is much more broadly conceived when Friedrich Schiller says it than when I do -- and that machinery is an overt defiance of nature, is to imply that slot machines are unnaturally inclined. Surely this is what we feel when we use them or even when we simply see them, and it is this feeling that makes its placement in the center of the main floor so obvious and so touching an example of conspicuous consumption.
But the slot machines alone would make The Venetian only extravagant, not disturbing. What makes the Venetian pleasantly disturbing is the clubs on either side of the casino floor and the auditorium on one side that has advertisements for Seinfeld comedy routines and Celine Dion musical performance. It is conspicuous consumption added to conspicuous consumption.
But wait, there's more!! One cannot walk five feet through any part of the casino floor without encountering a bar, a place of even more expenditure. I know not what the price of a drink is at The Venetian, but at Caesar's an 8-oz. Jack-and-Coke is $10, and I would have to assume that drinks are priced similarly at similar outlets. Televisions blare over the bars, and the atmosphere abounds with news of outside events -- events which, because we are so busy consuming, we do not take part in (for that would be work, and to do that would be to admit inferiority), but which we like to witness as a spectacle and for no other purpose. Conspicuous consumption takes many forms!
As I am more or less near exhausting the topic, I must leave on one last note about The Venetian casino. At one end of the casino is placed The Grand Lux Cafe, a branch of The Cheesecake Factory that gives a roaring-'20s feel to exactly the same product (and allows higher prices to be charged to unwitting consumers). The atmosphere is wrought by its own interior design, laden with evidences of conspicuous consumption, and while that in itself does not connect with the casino, its placement right next to the casino does play an important role in yielding the casino itself such a marvelous aura.
No other building in a city of conspicuous consumption, no other casino on a street known for causing sensory overload through conspicuous consumption, and no Sports-Book in a city known for its great sports gambling (and hence off-limits to professional teams of all sports) is as conspicuous or as awe-inspiring as this wonderful ode to the vanguard of the Renaissance. And it is on that note that I conclude by asking a simple, innocuous question: what, in God's name, would Veblen have thought?
1. Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class, taken from Michael Lewis (ed.), The Real Price of Everything (Sterling, 2007), 1048-1227.
2. Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, taken from Great Books of the Western World, Volume 40 (Britannica, 1952)
3. Jason Goetz, The Bubble Boys: How Mistaken Educational Ideals and Practices are Causing a Warped Social Fabric (CreateSpace, 2011)
4. Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or to Succeed (The Penguin Press, 2005)
5. Leonard Mlodinow, The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives (Vintage Books, 2008)
6. Galileo Galilei, Dialogues Concerning the Two New Sciences, taken from Great Books of the Western World, Volume 28 (Britannica, 1952), 127-260.
7. Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, taken from Great Books of the Western World, Volume 21 (Britannica, 1952)
8. Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, Essais, taken from Great Books of the Western World, Volume 25 (Britannica, 1952)
9. Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, taken from Great Books of the Western World, Volume 23 (Britannica, 1952), 43-283.
10. Friedrich Schiller, "On Simple and Sentimental Poetry," taken from Gateway to the Great Books, Volume 5: Literary Criticism (Britannica, 1963), 155-211
Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class, taken from Michael Lewis (ed.), The Real Price of Everything (New York: Sterling, 2007), 1064
See for example Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, taken from Great Books of the Western World, Volume 40 (Chicago: Britannica, 1952), 88-90.
See for example Jason Goetz, The Bubble Boys: How Mistaken Educational Ideals and Practices are Causing a Warped Social Fabric (CreateSpace, 2010).
See for example Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or to Succeed (The Penguin Press, 2005).
Veblen, Leisure Class, 1064
Veblen, Leisure Class, 1065
For a limited account, see Leonard Mlodinow, The Drunkard's Walk (New York: Vintage, 2008), 41-80.
See Galileo Galilei, Dialogues Concerning the Two New Sciences, taken from Great Books of the Western World, Volume 28 (Chicago: Britannica, 1952), 127-260.
See for example Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, taken from Great Books of the Western World, Volume 21 (Chicago: Britannica, 1952)
See Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, Essais, taken…
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